The tricky business of parenting has cropped up in a few conversations I’ve had recently. Each person sharing a very different story about their parenting journey.
Today I was on the phone to my TelCo and the woman on the other end of the line was telling me about her 20month old, and how she’s all of a sudden developing likes and dislikes that she’s expressing loudly. I pointed out that I remembered at about that age my own parenting changed from mainly meeting the child’s needs (food, comfort, sleep) to shaping their behaviour with boundaries. “This is where you really start to parent and it gets tricky” I said, “And you’ve got to try and stay one step ahead of them from now on” I counselled. “You’re right!” she exclaimed, “I’ve never thought of it like that.” We happily ended our conversation, and she went home to ponder how best to tackle this next stage of her parenting journey.
Waiting outside the classrooms at that end of the day I was chatting with a school-mum whose daughter’s ninth birthday is this weekend. She happily told me about how delighted she was with the person her daughter was becoming and how much she was enjoying her. She said that the hard years of parenting were paying off and she was looking forward to the years to come, with understandable apprehension about the teenage years.
And at the swim meet another mother was having a hard time with her youngest; a pre-schooler with a huge amount of energy who did not appreciate being curtailed to the edge of the pool to watch his older brother race. She and I were chatting about how kids can drive you mad at times, and that she was looking forward to him growing out of that difficult to please, full of energy, don’t want to sit still phase. We went on to talk about disappointment (in that not everyone can come first in a swimming race) and how actually it’s not such a bad thing. We all have to deal with it in our lives, and kids need to learn how.
Later, she emailed an article she’d read called ’10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make’ and having read it, it got me thinking that Kari Kampakis might be on to something. I’d discussed this very thing at camp with the teachers and their observations that kids these days are over protected from life’s disappointments and aren’t as resilient or as independent as they could or should be. They’re building a lot of life skills into the curriculum as parents just aren’t teaching their kids these vital skills anymore. When the ice-cream falls on the ground, don’t buy another, but share in their sadness. It’s hard, but it’s life.
I realise now that the disappointments and hard life lessons my boys are currently experiencing, I cannot protect them from, but I can help them live with them, because you know what, sometimes, like for Alexander it can be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and his wise mother says “some days are like that”.
1. Worshipping our children
2. Believing our children are perfect
3. Living vicariously through our children
4. Wanting to be our children’s BFF
5. Engaging in competitive parenting
6. Missing the wonder of childhood
7. Raising the child we want, not the child we have
8. Forgetting our actions speak louder than words
9. Judging other parents…and their kids
10. Understanding character